AI to strengthen connection with readers: Dow Jones chief

AI has been one of the key themes of this year’s edition of the WEF, with discussion on the topic having transcended the broad strokes of the previous year, moving toward a more sector-specific focus on AI. (AFP/File)
AI has been one of the key themes of this year’s edition of the WEF, with discussion on the topic having transcended the broad strokes of the previous year, moving toward a more sector-specific focus on AI. (AFP/File)
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Updated 18 January 2024
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AI to strengthen connection with readers: Dow Jones chief

AI to strengthen connection with readers: Dow Jones chief
  • Almar Latour tells World Economic Forum technology can enhance quality of journalism, adding his firm would introduce new AI products soon
  • Experts attending WEF stress need for greater collaboration to address AI challenge

LONDON: Artificial intelligence had the potential to play a pivotal role in strengthening the connection between media outlets and their readers, an industry leader told the World Economic Forum in Davos.

In a speech at the annual gathering in the Swiss town, Almar Latour, CEO of Dow Jones and publisher of The Wall Street Journal, told delegates that he was optimistic about the integration of AI in the media landscape.

He said: “I think it will proliferate and deepen the connection that we have with the public at large at a time when trust is really low.”

Latour pointed out that automated processes already generated a substantial portion of headlines and simpler news stories at Dow Jones, and that contrary to concerns about job displacement in journalism, AI had enabled reporters to redirect their focus toward more investigative work.

The forum heard that many publishing companies were now embracing the technology, introducing AI-driven features not only to enhance the user experience but also streamline workflows for employees.

In December, German publisher Axel Springer announced it was shutting down news outlet Upday as part of a plan to revive the brand as a “trend news generator” driven by AI.

And last year, London-based Arabic newspaper Elaph made headlines by introducing an AI anchor, positioning itself as one of the pioneers in adopting the technology in the journalism domain.

During a panel discussion titled “Gen AI: Boon or Bane for Creativity?,” Latour highlighted the strategic plans of Dow Jones to introduce a range of AI services across its platform.

He noted that the generative AI products were driven by customer demand, showing the company’s commitment to meeting specific business needs.

“We’re responding to a specific need that we see in a business,” he added.

Latour also explained the company’s vision for leveraging a subscription-based model, enabling readers to harness the power of AI to extract deeper insights, receive summarized content, and visualize information in innovative ways.

In addition, panel discussions focused on the challenges surrounding intellectual property and regulation.

YouTube CEO Neal Mohan noted the urgency of “identifying what’s machine generated versus human” while also addressing the concept of “attribution” and artist ownership.

He called for industry collaboration and mediation as essential tools to navigate potential copyright disputes.

On The New York Times’ lawsuit against OpenAI, the company behind ChatGPT, Latour pointed out the media industry’s preference for commercial solutions over resorting to legal proceedings.

He said: “We want to be partners in developing new products. To unleash creativity, improve quality journalism, and spread reliable information, we have to work with cutting-edge players.”

He added that going it alone in the media sector would be slower and less effective.

“Ultimately this is about value. Information has value and high-quality information has high value. We cannot forget that,” Latour said.

OpenAI CEO, Sam Altman, addressed the issue on a separate panel on Thursday.

He said he was pleased with the content licensing deals that OpenAI had inked with major publishers, such as AP and Axel Springer, and he took a jab at The New York Times for its legal action against his company for alleged copyright infringement.

Altman noted that as AI continued to reshape industries, it inevitably raised ethical and trust issues. Despite the progress made in the field, he accepted that several questions regarding its societal impact still needed to be answered through “global coordination.”

He added: “I think it’s good that people are afraid of the downsides of this technology. I think it’s good that we’re talking about it, and I think it’s good that we and others are being held to a high standard.”

AI has been one of the key themes of this year’s edition of the WEF, with discussion on the topic having transcended the broad strokes of the previous year, moving toward a more sector-specific focus on AI.

The Middle East, and specifically the Gulf, has been at the center of the conversation with the region looking to capitalize on the transformative power of AI.

As governments and businesses in the Middle East and North Africa region increasingly invest in AI-driven technologies, the sector has become a catalyst for economic growth and diversification.


Gaza’s Mohammed Salem wins World Press Photo of the Year award with haunting image of woman cradling dead niece

Gaza’s Mohammed Salem wins World Press Photo of the Year award with haunting image of woman cradling dead niece
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Gaza’s Mohammed Salem wins World Press Photo of the Year award with haunting image of woman cradling dead niece

Gaza’s Mohammed Salem wins World Press Photo of the Year award with haunting image of woman cradling dead niece
  • Picture was taken on Oct. 17, at Nasser hospital in southern Gaza, where families searched for relatives killed during Isralei bombing
  • ‘I hope photo makes world more conscious of the human impact of war, especially on children,’ Salem said
AMSTERDAM: Reuters photographer Mohammed Salem won the prestigious 2024 World Press Photo of the Year award on Thursday for his image of a Palestinian woman cradling the body of her five-year-old niece in the Gaza Strip.
The picture was taken on Oct. 17, 2023, at Nasser hospital in Khan Younis in southern Gaza, where families were searching for relatives killed during Israeli bombing of the Palestinian enclave.
Salem’s winning image portrays Inas Abu Maamar, 36, sobbing while holding Saly’s sheet-clad body in the hospital morgue.
“Mohammed received the news of his WPP award with humility, saying that this is not a photo to celebrate but that he appreciates its recognition and the opportunity to publish it to a wider audience,” Reuters’ Global Editor for Pictures and Video, Rickey Rogers, said at a ceremony in Amsterdam.
“He hopes with this award that the world will become even more conscious of the human impact of war, especially on children,” Rogers said, standing in front of the photo at the Nieuwe Kerk in the Dutch capital.
Announcing its annual awards, the Amsterdam-based World Press Photo Foundation said it was important to recognize the dangers facing journalists covering conflicts.
It said 99 journalists and media employees had been killed covering the war between Israel and Hamas since the Palestinian militant group attacked southern Israel on Oct. 7 and Israel responded by launching a military offensive in Gaza.
“The work of press and documentary photographers around the world is often done at high risk,” said Joumana El Zein Khoury, the organization’s executive director.
“This past year, the death toll in Gaza pushed the number of journalists killed to a near-record high. It is important to recognize the trauma they have experienced to show the world the humanitarian impact of the war.”
Salem, a Palestinian aged 39, has worked for Reuters since 2003. He also won an award in the 2010 World Press Photo competition.
The jury said Salem’s 2024 winning image was “composed with care and respect, offering at once a metaphorical and literal glimpse into unimaginable loss.”
“I felt the picture sums up the broader sense of what was happening in the Gaza Strip,” Salem said when the image was first published in November.
“People were confused, running from one place to another, anxious to know the fate of their loved ones, and this woman caught my eye as she was holding the body of the little girl and refused to let go.”

’PROFOUNDLY AFFECTING’
Salem’s wife had given birth to their child days before he took the shot.
The photograph is “profoundly affecting,” said jury member Fiona Shields, head of photography at Guardian News & Media.
The jury selected the winning photos from 61,062 entries by 3,851 photographers from 130 countries.
GEO photographer Lee-Ann Olwage of South Africa won the story of the year category with images documenting dementia in Madagascar.
The long-term projects category was won by Alejandro Cegarra of Venezuela for the series “The Two Walls” for The New York Times/Bloomberg.
Ukrainian photographer Julia Kochetova won the open format award with “War is Personal,” which documented the war in her country by weaving together pictures, poetry, audio and music in documentary style.

Arab League, OIC Islamic Broadcasting Union sign media protocol

Arab League, OIC Islamic Broadcasting Union sign media protocol
Updated 17 April 2024
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Arab League, OIC Islamic Broadcasting Union sign media protocol

Arab League, OIC Islamic Broadcasting Union sign media protocol
  • Protocol encompasses various areas of collaboration, and focuses on training and capacity building in media and journalism
  • Ambassador Ahmed Rashid Khattabi expressed optimism that the collaboration will contribute to promoting values of tolerance and moderation

CAIRO: The Arab League said that a media cooperation protocol will be signed between its Secretariat’s Media and Communication Sector and the OIC Islamic Broadcasting Union.

The Arab League added that “as part of efforts to cement ties between the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Radio and Television Union, and in line with the General Secretariat’s commitment to fostering relations with regional and international organizations, a cooperation protocol will be signed between the General Secretariat’s Media and Communication Sector and the OIC Islamic Broadcasting Union.”

The protocol encompasses various areas of collaboration, and focuses on training and capacity building in media and journalism. It aims to bolster media exchange between the League of Arab States and the OIC, facilitate the sharing of expertise and knowledge in media practices, organize joint media initiatives, and conduct specialized training courses and workshops.

Ambassador Ahmed Rashid Khattabi, assistant secretary-general and head of the Media and Communication Sector, said that the protocol shows the commitment of both organizations to advancing professional cooperation.

He highlighted the importance of aligning with rapid technological advancements to meet the evolving needs of both entities.

Khattabi commended the significance of this protocol, stressing the vital role of intensified media cooperation between Arab and Islamic nations.

He expressed optimism that the collaboration will contribute to promoting values of tolerance and moderation, while rejecting extremism, and fostering deeper media and cultural exchanges.

The signing ceremony will take place at the headquarters of the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States in Cairo.

In response to the secretary-general’s directive, Khattabi will sign the cooperation protocol on behalf of the General Secretariat of the League of Arab States. Amr Ellissy, president of the OIC Radio and Television Union, will sign on behalf of the union.


Social media platform X blocked in Pakistan over national security, ministry says

Social media platform X blocked in Pakistan over national security, ministry says
Updated 17 April 2024
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Social media platform X blocked in Pakistan over national security, ministry says

Social media platform X blocked in Pakistan over national security, ministry says
  • Ministry accuses X of failing to address its concerns, says ban was in ‘interest of upholding national security’
  • X has been blocked since country election in February, with activities critizing ban aims to stifle democratic accountability

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan’s interior ministry said on Wednesday it had blocked access to social media platform X around the time of February’s election on national security concerns, confirming a long-suspected shutdown.
Users in Pakistan have reported problems using X, formerly known as Twitter, since mid-February, but the government had made no official announcement on the matter until now.
The interior ministry mentioned the shutdown in a written submission to Islamabad High Court on Wednesday. Another court has told the government to reconsider the ban within a week, said Abdul Moiz Jafri, a petitioner and advocate.
“It is very pertinent to mention here that the failure of Twitter/X to adhere to the lawful directives of the government of Pakistan and address concerns regarding the misuse of its platform necessitated the imposition of a ban,” the ministry said in its court submission, which was seen by Reuters.
It said X had been reluctant to resolve the issue. X did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment on Wednesday.
“The decision to impose a ban on Twitter/X in Pakistan was made in the interest of upholding national security, maintaining public order, and preserving the integrity of our nation,” the ministry report said.
Access to X has remained limited since the Feb. 8 national election, which the party of jailed former prime minister Imran Khan says was rigged.

KHAN’S PARTY IS BIG USER OF X
Among Pakistan’s political parties, Khan’s party is the most prolific user of social media platforms, particularly after the country’s traditional media began censoring news about the ex-cricket star and his party ahead of the polls. Khan has over 20 million followers on X, making him the most followed Pakistani.
Khan says Pakistan’s military was behind his ouster as prime minister in 2022 and that it helped his opponents form the current government, despite candidates backed by his party winning most seats in February’s election. The military denies this charge.
He remains in jail on a number of convictions, most of which came days before the election.
Many government officials in Pakistan, notably Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, continue to use X — most likely through VPN software that bypasses the blocks.
The decision to temporarily block X was taken after considering confidential reports from Pakistan’s intelligence and security agencies, the ministry report said.
It said “hostile elements operating on Twitter/X have nefarious intentions to create an environment of chaos and instability, with the ultimate goal of destabilising the country and plunging it into some form of anarchy.”
Rights groups and marketing advertisers have raised concerns.
Digital rights activist Usama Khilji said the block on X seemed designed to hinder the democratic accountability which he said a platform with instant updates of real-time information enables, especially amid the allegations and evidence of rigging which surfaced following the election.
Marketing consultant Saif Ali said: “It has become nearly impossible to convince Pakistani advertisers to invest in Twitter for brand communications, due to the platform being throttled by governmental authorities.”


Palestinian journalists urge US media to boycott correspondents’ dinner with Biden

Palestinian journalists urge US media to boycott correspondents’ dinner with Biden
Updated 17 April 2024
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Palestinian journalists urge US media to boycott correspondents’ dinner with Biden

Palestinian journalists urge US media to boycott correspondents’ dinner with Biden
  • Appeal issued due to administration’s involvement in Israel’s actions in Gaza

LONDON: Palestinian journalists are urging their US counterparts to boycott the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner over the Biden administration’s involvement in Israel’s actions in Gaza.

The appeal, which has been endorsed by 25 Palestinian journalists from Gaza and from other countries, was officially issued on Tuesday after endorsement campaigns lasting a couple of weeks.

The letter said: “As Palestinian journalists, we urgently appeal to you, our colleagues globally, with a demand for immediate and unwavering action against the Biden administration’s ongoing complicity in the systematic slaughter and persecution of journalists in Gaza.

“For Palestinian journalists in Gaza, the blue press vest does not offer us protection, but rather functions as a red target.”

Media watchdogs have reported that at least 97 journalists and media workers have been among the more than 34,000 killed since the conflict began on Oct. 7.

Many others are missing or being detained by the Israeli military “for merely fulfilling our journalistic duties.”

Some 25 journalists have signed the letter, although some have chosen to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation by the Israeli army.

The letter includes signatures from renowned Gaza-based journalists such as Bisan Owda and photojournalists Mohamed Almasri, Ali Jadallah, Hosam Salem, and Mohammed Zaanoun.

The appeal has also been supported by the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate and Palestinian reporters working outside Gaza, including Mariam Barghouti, Mohammed El-Kurd, and Said Arikat, the Washington bureau chief for Al-Quds newspaper.

The letter criticizes the annual event — scheduled for April 27 — as an attempt by the US administration to manipulate the media by sacrificing journalistic ethics for access.

The letter added: “For journalists to fraternize at an event with President Biden and Vice President Harris would be to normalize, sanitize, and whitewash the administration’s role in genocide.

“The press plays an integral role in standing up against injustice by illuminating the truth and holding power to account.

“Journalists in Gaza cannot continue to bear the burden of doing so alone. It is past time journalists take action for journalists in Gaza.”

The children in Israel’s prisons
Ongoing hostage-for-prisoners exchange opens the world’s eyes to arrests, interrogations, and even abuse of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities
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Dubai-based Telegram platform to hit 1 bln users within year, founder says

Dubai-based Telegram platform to hit 1 bln users within year, founder says
Updated 17 April 2024
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Dubai-based Telegram platform to hit 1 bln users within year, founder says

Dubai-based Telegram platform to hit 1 bln users within year, founder says
  • Goal is to remain neutral and not a “player in geopolitics,” Pavel Durov said in interview

LONDON: The Telegram messaging app, one of the most popular social media platforms in Ukraine and Russia, will likely cross 1 billion active monthly users within a year, its founder said in remarks published on Tuesday.
In a rare interview, Pavel Durov told US journalist Tucker Carlson that the Dubai-based free cloud-based app that allows users to send and receive messages, calls and other files, is spreading like a “forest fire.”
“We’ll probably cross 1 billion monthly active users within a year now,” Durov, who fully owns Telegram, told Tucker, according to the video interview posted on Tucker’s account on the X social media platform.
The goal of the app, which has now 900 million active users, is to remain a “neutral platform” and not a “player in geopolitics,” Durov said. The Russia-born entrepreneur said he had fled Russia in 2014 citing government interference in a company he founded.
One of Telegram’s main rivals, Meta Platforms’ WhatsApp, has more than 2 billion monthly active users. The Financial Times reported in March that Telegram would likely aim for a US listing once the company had reached profitability.
After Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022, Telegram has become an instrumental tool for both governments and a go-to place for posting and accessing unfiltered information about the war.
Almost all major media, government entities and public figures in both Russia and Ukraine operate content channels on Telegram.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky posts his daily video addresses on the app, while his armed forces warn of air raids and document battlefield developments. The Kremlin announces President Vladimir Putin’s activities on Telegram, while Russia’s opposition rallies for support.
But the app, critics said, has also become a tool of misinformation and manipulation. A bill submitted to the Ukrainian parliament in March looks at stricter regulation of Telegram and other social networks.
The Kremlin told Durov to be more attentive after the messaging application was allegedly used to help recruit the gunmen who attacked a concert hall outside Moscow in March.